The Gion Festival takes place annually in Kyoto and is one of the most famous festivals in Japan. It lasts for the entire month of July and culminates in a parade, the Yamaboko Junkō on July 17 and July 24, it takes its name from the Gion district of the city. Kyoto's downtown area is reserved for pedestrian traffic on the three nights leading up to the massive parade; these nights are known as yoiyama on July 16 and July 23, yoiyoiyama on July 15 and July 22, yoiyoiyoiyama on July 14 and July 21. The streets are lined with night stalls selling food such as yakitori, takoyaki, traditional Japanese sweets, many other culinary delights. Women dressed in yukata walk around the area, carrying with them paper fans. During the yoiyama evenings leading up to the parade, some private houses in the old kimono merchant district open their entryways to the public, exhibiting family heirlooms in a custom known as the Byōbu Matsuri, or Folding Screen Festival; this provides visitors with an opportunity to observe traditional Japanese residences.
This festival originated as part of a purification ritual to appease the gods thought to cause fire and earthquakes. In 869, when people were suffering from a plague attributed to the rampaging deity Gozu Tennō, Emperor Seiwa ordered prayers to the god of the Yasaka Shrine, Susanoo-no-Mikoto. Sixty-six stylized and decorated halberds, one for each of the traditional provinces of Japan, were prepared and erected at Shinsen-en, a garden, along with portable shrines from Yasaka Shrine; this practice was repeated. In 970, the festival became an annual event and it has since failed to take place. In 1533, the Ashikaga shogunate halted all religious events associated with the festival. Over time the powerful and influential merchant class made the festival more elaborate and, by the Edo period, it was using the parade to brandish its wealth. Smaller floats lost or damaged over the centuries have been restored, the weavers of the Nishijin area offer new tapestries to replace destroyed ones; when they are not in use, the floats and regalia are kept in special storehouses throughout the central merchant district of Kyoto.
The festival serves as an important setting in Yasunari Kawabata's novel, The Old Capital in which he describes the festival, along with the Festival of Ages and the Aoi Festival, as "the'three great festivals' of the old capital". Following is a list of selected annual events in the Gion Festival. July 1 through 5: Kippuiri, opening ceremony of festival in each participating neighbourhood July 2: Kujitorishiki, lottery for the order of floats in the parade order, conducted at the municipal assembly hall July 7: Shrine visit by chigo children of Ayagasaboko July 10: Lantern parade to welcome mikoshi July 10: Mikoshi arai, cleansing of mikoshi with sacred water from the Kamo River July 10 through 13: Building of floats July 13 a.m.: Shrine visit by chigo children of Naginataboko July 13 p.m.: Shrine visit by chigo children of Kuse Shrine July 14: Yoiyoiyoiyama July 15: Yoiyoiyama July 16: Yoiyama July 16: Yoimiya shinshin hono shinji, art performances July 17: Parade of yamaboko floats July 17: Parade of mikoshi from Yasaka Shrine July 18 through 20: Building of floats July 21: Yoiyoiyoiyama July 22: Yoiyoiyama July 23: Yoiyama July 24: Parade of yamaboko floats July 24: Parade of hanagasa July 24: Parade of mikoshi to Yasaka Shrine July 28: Mikoshi arai, cleansing of mikoshi with sacred water from the Kamo River July 31: Closing service at Eki Shrine The floats in the Yoiyama Parade are divided into two groups, the larger Hoko and the smaller Yama, are collectively called Yamaboko.
The nine Hoko represent the 66 halberds or spears used in the original purification ritual, the 23 Yama carry life-sized figures of famous people. All the floats are decorated with tapestries, some made in Nishijin.the textile district of Kyoto, others imported from all over the world. Traditional musicians and artists sit in the floats. In 2009 Yamahoko was listed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity; each year the families that maintain the floats draw lots at a special meeting to determine in what order they will take part in the festival. These lots are issued at a special ceremony before the parade, during which the Mayor of Kyoto dons the robes of a magistrate. On the Naginata Hoko is the chigo, a young boy in Shinto robes and crowned with a golden phoenix, chosen from among the Kyoto merchant families as the deity's sacred page. After weeks of special purification ceremonies, during which he lives isolated from contaminating influences such as the presence of women, he is carried onto the float, as he is not permitted to touch the ground.
The boy must cut a sacred rope with a single stroke to begin the festival. Weight: about 12,000 kg Height: about 25 m from ground to tip / 8 m from ground to roof Wheel diameter: about 1.9 m Attendants: about 30–40 pulling during procession two men piloting with wedges Weight: 1,200–1,600 kg Height: about 6 m Attendants: 14–24 people to pull, push or carry Gion Matsuri Procession Route 2014
Komainu called lion-dogs in English, are statue pairs of lion-like creatures either guarding the entrance or the honden, or inner shrine of many Japanese Shinto shrines or kept inside the inner shrine itself, where they are not visible to the public. The first type, born during the Edo period, is called sandō komainu, the second and much older type jinnai komainu, they can sometimes be found at Buddhist temples, nobility residences or private homes. Meant to ward off evil spirits, modern komainu statues are identical, but one has the mouth open, the other closed; the two forms are referred to collectively as a-un. This is a common characteristic in religious statue pairs at both temples and shrines; the pattern is Buddhist in origin and has a symbolic meaning: The open mouth is pronouncing the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet, pronounced "a", while the closed one is uttering the last letter, pronounced "um", to represent the beginning and the end of all things. Together they form the sound Aum, a syllable sacred in several religions like Hinduism and Jainism.
Komainu resemble Chinese guardian lions and in fact originate from Tang dynasty China. The Chinese guardian lions are believed to have been influenced by lion pelts and lion depictions introduced through trade from either the Middle East or India, countries where the lion existed and was a symbol of strength. During its transportation along the Silkroad, the symbol changed, acquiring a distinctive look; the first lion statue in India appears around the 3rd century BC on top of a column erected by King Ashoka. The tradition arrived in China where it developed into the guardian lion, exported to Korea and Okinawa. During the Nara period, as in the rest of Asia, the pair always consisted of two lions. Used only indoors until the 14th century, they were made of wood. During the Heian period, for example, wooden or metal pairs were employed as weights and door-stops, while at the Imperial Palace they were used to support screens or folding screens. During the early Heian period, the tradition changed and the two statues started to be different and be called differently.
One was called shishi because, as before, it resembled that animal. The other had its mouth closed, looked rather like a dog, was called komainu, or "Goguryeo dog", sometimes had a single horn on its head; the animals returned to be identical, but for their mouths, ended up being called both komainu. Ubiquitous as they are now at shrines, Komainu have been used outdoors only since the 14th century. In Asia, the lion was popularly believed to have the power to repel evil, for this reason it was habitually used to guard gates and doors. In Japan, too it ended up being installed at the entrance of shrines and temples next to the lion-dog; as a protection against exposure to Japan's rainy weather, the komainu started being carved in stone. The shīsā, the stone animals that in Okinawa guard the gates or the roofs of houses, are close relatives of the shishi and the komainu, objects whose origin and symbolic meaning they share, their name itself is centuries old regional variant of shishi-san. Starting from the Edo period other animals have been used instead of lions or dogs, among others wild boars, tigers and foxes.
The most frequent variant of the komainu theme is the fox, guardian of shrines dedicated to kami Inari. There are about 30 thousand Inari shrines in Japan, the entrance of each is guarded by a pair of fox statues. One, sometimes both, has a sūtra roll, a key or a jewel in its mouth; the statues do not symbolize the animals' proverbial malice, but the magic powers they are believed to possess. Sometimes the guardians are painted, in that case they are always white. White foxes are messengers of the kami, sometimes himself believed to be, portrayed as, a fox. Although visible genitals are rare, the left fox is believed to be the right one female; the foxes wear red votive bibs similar to those worn by statues of other deities, for example Buddhist god Jizō, from which one expects some kind of favor in return. In this case however the bibs seem to be purely a rite. Chinese guardian lions Kitsune Chinthe Xiezhi Nio Media related to Inari fox statues at Wikimedia Commons "JAANUS". On-line Dictionary of Japanese Architectural and Art Historical Terminology.
"Lion-dogs". Kyoto National Museum Dictionary. Retrieved 16 July 2010. Mihashi, Ken. "Komainu". Shogakukan Encyclopedia online. Yahoo. Retrieved 16 July 2010. Kanechiku, Nobuyuki. "Shishi". Shogakukan Encyclopedia online. Retrieved 16 July 2010. Kotera, Yoshiaki. "Komainu". Japanese Religions. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 31 July 2010. Nakayama, Kaoru. "Komainu". Encyclopedia of Shinto. Kokugakuin University. Retrieved 27 December 2010. Scheid, Bernhard. "Inari Fuchswächter". University of Vienna. Retrieved 30 July 2010. "Shisa Travelogue". Okinawa Prefectural Government. Retrieved 18 July 2010. Smyers, Karen Ann; the Fox and the Jewel: Shared and Private Meanings in Contemporary Japanese Inari Worship. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-2102-5. OCLC 231775156
A chōzuya or temizuya is a Shinto water ablution pavilion for a ceremonial purification rite known as temizu. Water-filled basins, called chōzubachi, are used by worshippers for washing their left hands, right hands and the handle of the water ladle to purify themselves before approaching the main Shinto shrine or shaden; this symbolic purification is normal before worship and all manned shrines have this facility, as well as many Buddhist temples and some new religious houses of worship. The temizuya is an open area where clear water fills one or various stone basins. Wooden dippers are available to worshippers; this purification was done at a spring, stream or seashore and this is still considered the ideal. Worshippers at the Inner Shrine at Ise still use this traditional way of ablution. Chōzubachi Glossary of Shinto Misogi, a Shinto ritual of full-body purification Ritual purification Wudhu Ablution in Christianity
Chigi, Okichigi or Higi are forked roof finials found in Japanese and Shinto Architecture. Chigi predate Buddhist are an architectural element endemic to Japan, they are an important aesthetic aspect of Shinto shrines, where they are paired with katsuogi, another type of roof ornamentation. Today and katsuogi are used on Shinto buildings and distinguish them from other religious structures, such as Buddhist temples in Japan. Chigi are thought to have been employed on Japanese buildings starting from the 1st century AD, their existence during the Jōmon period is well documented by numerous artifacts. Measurements for chigi were mentioned in an early document, the Taishinpō Enryaku Gishikichō, written in 804 AD; the evolutionary origins of the chigi are not known. One theory is that they were interlocking bargeboard planks that were left uncut. Another is, yet another theory proposes that they were used to hold thatch roofing together. Evidence of this can be seen in minka, or common traditional homes, where two interlocking timbers are found at the roof gables.
However, the only certain fact is that chigi were a working part of the structure, but as building techniques improved, their function was lost and they were left as decorations. Chigi were only to have decorated the homes and warehouses of powerful families, more decorations signified higher rank; this traditional continued until recent times. In the 17th to 19th centuries, the legal code dictated how many chigi were allowed on a building roofs in accordance with the owner's social rank. Today, chigi are found only on Shinto shrines. Chigi may be built directly into the roof as part of the structure, or attached and crossed over the gable as an ornament; the former method is believed to closer resemble its original design, is still utilized in older building methods such as shinmei-zukuri, kasuga-zukuri, taisha-zukuri. Chigi that aren't built into the building are crossed, sometimes cut with a slight curve. While chigi are predominantly placed only at the ends of the roof, this method allows them to sometimes be placed in the middle as well.
More ornate chigi, such as at Ise Shrine, are cut with one or two kaza-ana, or "wind-slots", a third open cut at the tip, giving it a forked appearance. Gold metal coverings serve both ornamental purposes. If the tops are cut vertically, the enshrined kami is a male, otherwise a female; the katsuogi, a short decorative log, is found behind the chigi. Depending on the building, there may be only one katsuogi accompanying the chigi, or an entire row along the ridge of the roof. Names for chigi can vary from region. In Kyoto, Nara Prefecture, Hiroshima, they are called uma. In parts of Toyama, Osaka, Kōchi and Miyazaki prefectures, they are called umanori. Katsuogi Shinto architecture Shinto shrine The Glossary of Shinto for terms concerning Shinto and Shinto architecture
Richard Arthur Brabazon Ponsonby-Fane was a British academic, specialist of Shinto and Japanologist. Richard Arthur Brabazon Ponsonby was born at Gravesend on the south bank of the Thames in Kent, England to John Henry and Florence Ponsonby, his boyhood was spent in the family home in London and at the Somerset country home, Brympton d'Evercy, of his grandfather, Spencer Ponsonby-Fane. Ponsonby was educated at Harrow School, he added "Fane" to his own name when he inherited Brympton d'Evercy in 1916 after the deaths of both his grandfather and father. In 1896, Ponsonby traveled to Cape Town to serve as Private Secretary to the Governor of the British Cape Colony. For the next two decades, his career in the British Empire's colonial governments spanned the globe, he worked with a number of colonial leaders as private secretary to the Governor of Natal, to the Governor of Trinidad and Tobago, to the Governor of Ceylon, to the Governor of Hong Kong. He was re-posted to Natal in 1907. In 1910 he played a single first-class cricket match for the Marylebone Cricket Club.
In 1915-1919, he was re-posted as private secretary to the Governor of Hong Kong. In addition to his government duties in Hong Kong, he began lecturing at the University of Hong Kong in 1916. After 1919, Ponsonby-Fane became a permanent resident of Japan, traveling four months of the year to Hong Kong for lectures at the Crown colony's university. In 1921, when the Japanese Crown Prince visited Hong Kong en route to Europe, Ponsonby-Fane was introduced as his interpreter; when Emperor Shōwa was enthroned in 1928, he was the only non-Japanese guest, invited to witness the ceremonies from in front of the palace's Kenreimon gate. In 1930, when HIH Prince Takamatsu and his wife traveled to Europe, Ponsonby-Fane sailed on the same ship. In 1932, Ponsonby-Fane built a Japanese-style home in one of the northern suburbs of Kyoto. In the last decades of his life, he was always photographed with a long woolen scarf draped around his shoulders; this unique scarf was said to be hand-knit by Dowager Empress Teimei, the widow of Emperor Taishō.
Ponsonby-Fane died at home in Kyoto in December 1937. In an overview of writings by and about Richard Ponsonby-Fane, OCLC/WorldCat lists 74 works in 136 publications in 2 languages and 1,443 library holdings; this list is not finished. The Imperial Family of Japan, 1915 The Capital and Palace of Heian, 1924 The Vicissitudes of Shinto, 1931 The Nomenclature of the N. Y. K. Fleet, 1931 Kamo Mioya Shrine, 1934 Kyoto: the Old Capital of Japan, 794-1869, 1956 The Imperial House of Japan, 1959 Sovereign and Subject, 1962 Studies in Shinto and Shrines, 1962 The Vicissitudes of Shinto, 1963 Visiting Famous Shrines in Japan, 1964 Order of the Rising Sun. Order of the Sacred Treasure, 1921. University of Hong Kong, Honorary Doctor of Laws, 1926. Private Secretary to the Sovereign Britton, Dorothy.. "Richard Ponsonby-Fane, A Modern William Adams," pp. 190-204 in Britain and Japan: Biographical Portraits. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-873410-62-2 Fiévé, Nicolas.. Japanese Capitals in Historical Perspective: Place and Memory in Kyoto and Tokyo.
ISBN 9780700714094. "A Biographical sketch of Dr. R. Ponsonby-Fane," Studies in Shrines. Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society. OCLC 399449
Shinto architecture is the architecture of Japanese Shinto shrines. With a few exceptions, the general blueprint of a Shinto shrine is Buddhist in origin. Before Buddhism, shrines were just temporary. Buddhism brought to Japan the idea of permanent shrines and much of Shinto architecture's vocabulary; the presence of verandas, stone lanterns, elaborate gates are examples of this influence. The composition of a Shinto shrine is variable, none of its possible features are present; the honden or sanctuary, the part which houses the kami and, the centerpiece of a shrine, can be missing. However, since its grounds are sacred, they are surrounded by a fence made of stone or wood called tamagaki, while access is made possible by an approach called sandō; the entrances themselves are straddled by gates called torii, which are therefore the simplest way to identify a Shinto shrine. A shrine may include within its grounds each destined to a different purpose. Among them are the honden or sanctuary, where the kami are enshrined, the heiden, or hall of offerings, where offers and prayers are presented, the haiden or hall of worship, where there may be seats for worshipers.
The honden is the building that contains the shintai "the sacred body of the kami". Of these, only the haiden is open to the laity; the honden is located behind the haiden and is much smaller and unadorned. Other notable shrine features are the temizuya, the fountain where visitors cleanse their hands and mouth and the shamusho, the office that supervises the shrine. Shrines can be large, as for example Ise Shrine, or as small as a beehive, as in the case of the hokora, small shrines found on road sides. Before the forced separation of Shinto and Buddhism, it was not uncommon for a Buddhist temple to be built inside or next to a shrine or to the contrary for a shrine to include Buddhist subtemples. If a shrine was a Buddhist temple, it was called a jingu-ji. At the same time, temples in the entire country adopted tutelary kami (chinju and built temple shrines called chinjusha to house them. After the forcible separation of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines ordered by the new government in the Meiji period, the connection between the two religions was severed, but continued nonetheless in practice.
The practice of marking sacred areas began in Japan as early as the Yayoi period originating from primal Shinto tenets. Features in the landscape such as rocks, waterfalls and mountains, were places believed to be capable of attracting kami, subsequently were worshiped as yorishiro. Sacred places may have been marked with a surrounding fence and an entrance gate or torii. Temporary buildings similar to present day portable shrines were constructed to welcome the gods to the sacred place. Over time the temporary structures evolved into permanent structures that were dedicated to the gods. Ancient shrines were constructed according to the style of storehouses; the buildings had gabled roofs, raised floors, plank walls, were thatched with reed or covered with hinoki cypress bark. Such early shrines did not include a space for worship. Three important forms of ancient shrine architectural styles exist: taisha-zukuri, shinmei-zukuri and sumiyoshi-zukuri They are exemplified by Izumo Taisha, Nishina Shinmei Shrine and Sumiyoshi Taisha and date to before 552.
According to the tradition of Shikinen sengū-sai, the buildings or shrines were faithfully rebuilt at regular intervals adhering to the original design. In this manner, ancient styles have been replicated through the centuries to the present day; the following is a diagram illustrating the most important elements of a Shinto shrine. Torii – Shinto gate Stone stairs Sandō – the approach to the shrine Chōzuya or temizuya – fountain to cleanse one's hands and face Tōrō – decorative stone lanterns Kagura-den – building dedicated to Noh or the sacred kagura dance Shamusho – the shrine's administrative office Ema – wooden plaques bearing prayers or wishes Sessha/massha – small auxiliary shrines Komainu – the so-called "lion dogs", guardians of the shrine Haiden – oratory Tamagaki – fence surrounding the honden Honden – main hall, enshrining the kami. On the roof of the haiden and honden are visible chigi and katsuogi, both common shrine ornamentations; the torii is a gate which marks the entrance to a sacred area but not a shrine.
A shrine may have any number of torii made of wood, metal, concrete or any other material. They can be found in different places within a shrine's precincts to signify an increased level of holiness. Torii can be found at Buddhist temples, however they are an accepted symbol of Shinto, as such are used to mark shrines on maps; the origin of the torii is unclear, no existing theory has been accepted as valid. They may for example have originated in India as a derivative of the torana gates in the monastery of Sanchi, located in central India; the sandō is the road approaching either a Buddhist temple. Its point of origin is straddled in the first case by a Shinto torii, in the second by a Buddhist sanmon, gates which mark the beginning of the shrine's or temple territory. There can be stone lanterns and other decorations at any point along its course. There can be more than one sandō, in which case the main one is called omote-sandō, or front sandō, ura-sandō, or rear sandō, etc. B
The karahafu is a type of gable with a style peculiar to Japan. The characteristic shape is the undulating curve at the top; this gable is common in traditional architecture, including Japanese castles, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines. Roofing materials such as tile and bark may be used as coverings; the face beneath the gable may be flush with the wall below. Although kara can be translated as meaning "China" or "Tang", this type of roof with undulating bargeboards is an invention of Japanese carpenters in the late Heian period, it was named thus because the word kara could mean "noble" or "elegant", was added to names of objects considered grand or intricate regardless of origin. The karahafu developed during the Heian period and is shown in picture scrolls to decorate gates and palanquins; the first known depiction of a karahafu appears on a miniature shrine in Shōryoin shrine at Hōryū-ji in Nara. The karahafu and its building style became popular during the Kamakura and Muromachi period, when Japan witnessed a new wave of influences from the Asian continent.
During the Kamakura period, Zen Buddhism spread to Japan and the karahafu was employed in many Zen temples. The karahafu was used only in temples and aristocratic gateways, but starting from the beginning of the Azuchi–Momoyama period, it became an important architectural element in the construction of a daimyō's mansions and castles; the daimyō's gateway with a karahafu roof was reserved for the shōgun during his onari visits to the retainer, or for the reception of the emperor at shogunate establishments. A structure associated with these social connections imparted special meaning. Gates with a karahafu roof, the karamon, became a means to proclaim the prestige of a building and functioned as a symbol of both religious and secular architecture. In the Tokugawa shogunate, the karamon gates were a powerful symbol of authority reflected in architecture. Karamon Japanese architecture Japanese castle